Frequently Asked Questions: GM Social Investment

What is social investment?

Social investment is a loan given to organisations who are trading for a social, cultural or environmental benefit. Social investment is NOT a grant but sometimes it may include some grant – this is called ‘blended finance’. You should look at the specific features of any social investment fund you’re interested in to find out whether this applies. 


Who can apply? Am I eligible? Can anyone apply?  

In the vast majority of cases, GMCVO’s investment is open to organisations with any legal structure, so long as they have a social purpose.  

Social organisations can be social enterprises, community businesses and trading charities. We will also invest in Private companies both Limited by Guarantee and Shares, provided they have embedded social purpose and other requirements into the company articles. 

 The Resonance Community Developers’ Fund can only support Community Benefit Societies however GMCVO can provide support for applicants to set one up.

If you’re unsure if you’re eligible, you’d like to know more about embedding social purpose into your company articles or for support with incorporation, contact our investment team at gmsocinvest@gmcvo.org.uk


What can I use investment for? 

Social investment is designed to be flexible and to be used for anything that will boost your trading activity and the social impact you are delivering. You can use the investment for any costs relating to starting or growing your work. These can include salaries, equipment, buying, building or refurbishing a property, rent and other overhead costs, marketing, training, cashflow and much more. 

There are some activities that we WILL NOT fund, such as: 

  • Any products, activities or materials deemed illegal under UK or international law 

  • Racist, misogynistic and/or anti-democratic media 

  • Gambling, casinos and equivalent enterprises, other than society lotteries as defined by the Gambling Act 2005 

  • Tobacco or tobacco related products (where revenue derived from such products is a significant part of the organisation’s total revenue) 

  • Pornography 

  • Weapons, munitions or nuclear products, primarily designed for military purposes or any goods or services with a military end user or goods that are otherwise restricted (e.g. goods that may be used to torture people) 

  • Animal testing 

  • Fossil fuels (specifically with respect to exploration, production, refining, transportation, energy generation, or construction of fossil fuel related facilities to carry out any of the above) 


How long will it take me to repay? How much will investment cost? 

Repayment terms and interest rates vary for all of our investment funds and we can work with you to help you find the right fund for you. Before you take on a loan, the investment team will explain to you the cost of it including providing you with a loan calculator to show you the length and price of the repayments.  


Are your loans secured? 

Our loans are unsecured. This means that directors and trustees do not need to provide any personal or organisational assets as security. We do this because we want to remove as many barriers as possible to make loan finance accessible to social organisations in Greater Manchester. 


Can this investment be part of a larger investment raise our organisation is making? 

Yes. You can apply for a loan from us as part of your efforts to fund a larger project. We are happy to co-invest and match fund with other investors and funders, but you should make this clear when you get in contact with us. You should also inform your other funders before applying to get a loan from us.  


How do you calculate the interest of the loans? 

The interest we apply to our social investment depends on the fund you’re applying for and you should check the specific fund for more details. Our interest is calculated at a flat, fixed annual rate and we provide loan calculators to applicants so that you can see exactly how much it will cost your organisation to take on an investment. The costs of taking on investment are clearly set out in the agreement documents and they won’t change during the life of the investment. 


How does GMCVO get the funding for this programme? 

Our funding comes from lots of sources including investment funds, the government, foundations, trusts, credit unions and more. To learn more about where the funding comes from for a specific investment fund, contact our investment team at gmsocinvest@gmcvo.org.uk. 


How do I apply?

If you are thinking about applying, we strongly recommend you speak to our social investment team. You can contact us by emailing gmsocinvest@gmcvo.org.uk or calling 0161 277 1007. We will arrange an initial meeting with you where we can learn more about your plans.  

You can also fill out an online Enquiry form here.

When you apply, we will provide you with a guide of the documents you will need to complete before we can take your case to a GMCVO panel. If you have any barriers to providing the documents, speak to the investment team who will be able to advise you on additional support for completing them.  


What do you mean by social impact?  

Social impact is the effect your organisation has on people, communities, or the environment as a result of your work. Your investment proposal should explain the specific issue(s) you’re trying to solve, how your work makes a difference and how you intend to measure that difference happening.  

If you have done any work to define your social impact, such as a theory of change or impact framework, you can use that in your application. If you struggle to describe the social impact of your organisation, don’t worry. Our investment team can support you to provide this information. 


Who decides whether we can get investment?  

An independent investment Panel makes all of the decisions about who receives GMCVO investment. Which panel and how often it meets will depend on the fund you are applying for. You will be informed of the next deadline for the Panel by the investment team when you are pulling together your submission.  


How long does it take to get investment?  

The time length to get investment from GMCVO depends on how long it takes you to pull together your submission. Some organisations will need additional support to get ready to take on investment and therefore it will take longer for them to get investment.  

Once you have submitted your application documents, the investment team will present your case to the next Panel. The process is generally supportive and informative with results typically coming out in one of three ways: 

  1. The case is declined but there is specific feedback about what should be developed in order to be successful when returning to the next Panel. 

  2. The case is accepted in principle and you will need to meet some conditions before drawing down the investment.  

  3. The case is accepted and you will usually be able to draw the investment down once the paperwork is completed – around 2-4 weeks after the Panel. 

Click here to read more about GM Social Investment.

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